(CelebrityAccess) — In another sordid tale of copyright takedown notices gone awry, public outcry forced Sony Music to admit that they don’t own the rights to music composed by the noted classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
The incident, which unfolded largely on social media, began when musician James Rhodes recorded himself performing part of a Bach composition on his living room piano and posted it to his Facebook page.
Bach died 268 years ago, putting his work in the public domain, but that did not prevent Sony from issuing a copyright strike against Rhodes video, claiming ownership of 47 seconds of that performance.
As a result of the copyright notice, Facebook partially muted the video, despite the composition being in the public domain and older than U.S. copyright law.
So far, par for the course. A bot likely scanned the video and matched it to a copyrighted performance of the Bach piece Sony Music did hold the rights to, and issued the takedown notice. But it’s what happened after that highlights the flaws in the system.
When Rhodes learned about the takedown, he filed a dispute in the claim, explaining “this is my own performance of Bach, who died 300 years ago. I own all the rights,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But instead of backing off after realizing they were clearly in the wrong, Sony doubled down and rejected Rhodes’s counter-notice, suggesting that even the rejections are automated.
I am beyond furious. @SonyMusicGlobal have rejected my dispute. I recorded a short piece of Bach, they claimed they owned 47 seconds of it and removed it. I appealed. And hey have rejected my appeal. What. The. FUCK? @SonyMusicGlobal @SonyClassicalUK Please RT – this is insane. pic.twitter.com/42da3I9MYX
— James Rhodes (@JRhodesPianist) September 10, 2018
Rhodes then took his story to Twitter, sparking a public backlash that eventually led to Sony retracting their takedown notice on the video after his Tweet drew more than 1,700 comments from outraged music fans.
As the EFF notes, this is particularly relevant in light of the mandatory filter law approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday that is likely to make such infringements of the public domain all the more likely.